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Documents: Boy got gun during visit with mother

Documents: Wash. boy, 9, who brought gun to school got gun during visit with mother By The Associated Press

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) ' A prosecutor is preparing to file charges against a 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to a Washington state elementary school, wounding a young classmate when the gun accidentally went off.

The third-grader got the weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, from his mother's house, authorities said.

The boy was due in court for a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after emergency crews responded to the school shooting.

Todd Dowell of the Kitsap county prosecutor's juvenile division said under state law children between 8 and 12 years old can face charges, if a court determines the child has the capacity to understand an act is wrong.

The boy's classmate, 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman, remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound.

Authorities say the boy brought a gun to Armin Jahr Elementary, where it discharged from his backpack, piercing through and hitting Kocer-Bowman in the abdomen and arm. On Wednesday, Bremerton police characterized the shooting as accidental.

The boy was being investigated for unlawful possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school and third-degree assault charges. Authorities believe he came into possession of the weapon during a visitation with his mother over the weekend, according to charging documents released Thursday.

Twenty-seven states have some form of firearm child access prevention laws. Such laws can include criminal penalties for adults who allow children to get their hands on guns, but Washington is not one of those states, according to the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence.

Gail Hammer, a law professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, said it is very rare for a child as young as 9 to be charged with a crime. Even if a young child is convicted, they wouldn't be sent to an adult prison, Hammer said

"Generally with young children they try to deal with it in the juvenile system," she said.

There have been shootings at schools that involved younger children. In 2000, 6-year-old Kayla Rolland, a Michigan first-grader, was fatally shot by a 6-year-old classmate who brought a gun from home. Last year, a 6-year-old kindergartner at a Houston elementary school accidentally fired a gun as he was showing it off to friends, injuring three students.

Bremerton Schools spokeswoman Patty Glaser said the school where Wednesday's shooting happened, with about 400 students, was open for classes Thursday with 10 counselors available to talk with teachers, students and parents.

She said the classroom where the shooting happened remains closed and that the students from that classroom have been moved.

The school is in a quiet residential neighborhood about 20 miles west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.

In the latest rating by the Brady Campaign, a national gun control advocacy group, Washington scored no points in the child safety category.

"Washington state is a loosely regulated state when it comes to firearms," said Gregory Roberts, executive director of Washington Cease Fire, a Brady Campaign affiliate.


Associated Press photographer Ted Warren in Bremerton contributed to this report.

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Related Keywords:US-Washington-School-Shooting,Violent crime,Crime,General news,Violence,Social issues,Social affairs,Education issues,Education


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